Illegal cigarettes and tobacco worth an estimated £6,500 have been seized on North Tyneside.
A joint operation between North Tyneside Council’s Trading Standards team and Northumbria Police led to 8,440 cigarette packets and over 5kg of rolling tobacco being seized.
The seized items were a mixture of products that were counterfeit or had no duty paid.
Based on intelligence received, seven stores in the borough were visited on Thursday 12 May.
Seizures were made at four stores in the Howdon and Wallsend areas.
The initiative formed part of Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle the sale of illegal tobacco.
Cllr Carole Burdis, cabinet member for Community Safety and Public Protection, said: "We’re committed to taking action against the sale of illegal tobacco - it disadvantages genuine businesses and creates a cheap source of tobacco that can support smoking, particularly in the young.
"Through our close partnership with Northumbria Police, we’re cracking down on the supply of illicit tobacco in the borough and the criminality surrounding it.”
Chief Inspector of Northumbria Police’s Northern Communities Team, Colin Lowther, said: "As a Force, we are committed to working with our partners and taking action against the sale of illegal tobacco products.
"We will continue to pursue those involved in illegal activities, as well as protecting the public from the sale of illegal unregulated products."
The Trading Standards service, which is delivered for the council by Capita, is now conducting an investigation following the seizures.
Previous action taken against those selling illegal tobacco has resulted in a landlord terminating the trader’s lease, as well as a licence review resulting in a business not being able to sell alcohol.
Anyone with information about illegal tobacco being sold should called the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it online here.